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This software aims to remediate the underlying difficulties that keep struggling readers and English-language learners from making progress. Fast ForWord starts with cognitive skills such as memory, attention and processing speed, and works from the bottom up using the principles of neuroplasticity.


The Champaign (Ill.) Community Unit School District #4 serves more than 9,600 students at 18 school sites, and includes more than 1,400 staff members. Trevor Nadrozny has been the director of curriculum for the last three years and was an elementary school principal in the district for 11 years. When Nadrozny first came to the position, of primary concern was the district’s K5 English language arts curriculum. “We had struggled with reading, where we are dealing with a significant achievement gap,” says Nadrozny.

A teaching and leadership framework, Literacy First helps districts create a three-year strategy to boost student and teacher success in reading and writing. The Common Core-aligned program can be used to set benchmarks and measure achievement. The program includes school site visits from Literacy First experts, professional development, coaching, and curriculum materials.


This Common Core K5 writing program fuses best practices in writing pedagogy into a comprehensive program that gives teachers and students everything they need to develop a curriculum. WriteSteps includes daily lesson plans, demonstration videos, writing samples, and Common Core rubrics.


The Essential Guides to Writing is for grades 2 through 5. It’s designed to teach students to write with confidence and read with purpose. The program includes writing activities, detailed lesson plans with clear objectives, and foundational language arts lessons in all genres (narrative, expository, opinion, persuasive). Teacher guides and student writing samples are also included.

Reader Testimony: 

“Working with the Essential Guides has provided our educators with the structure needed to ensure students will meet the Common Core State Standards. Through the utilization of common vocabulary, explicit routines, and consistent application of writing strategies, students benefit by a spiraling exposure to the three types of writing that are assessed through the district and the state.”

—Catherine White, literacy coach, Natick Public Schools, Mass.


Students need instruction on using vocabulary in context and extensive interaction with academic language.

Joseph Lopez, El Paso ISD’s associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, talks with the district’s Texas Literacy Initiative administrators. The program has been implemented in 39 of El Paso’s 94 schools to promote better reading and writing skills.

With more than 30 years of education experience, Joseph Lopez brought grant money and state funding to help grow student achievement.

With the Common Core standards comes an increasing focus on literacy across subjects: today, 77 percent of educators believe developing students’ literacy is one of the most important parts of their job, a new survey found.

“It’s much more widely understood today that every educator has a responsibility to improve student literacy, which is the gateway to learning in all disciplines,” says Kent Williamson, director of the National Center for Literacy Education, which conducted the survey of 2,400 educators nationwide.

Students in the Allegheny Valley (Pa.) School District use robotics kits to build moving dioramas that integrate poetry and engineering. Robotics and poetry aren’t an ordinary combination.

In 2014, elementary students in 45 states must know how to type on a computer when the new Common Core State Standards are implemented, but some states are holding on to an old, basic skill—the art of cursive handwriting.